by Tom Utescher
In their first Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference clashes of the new year, host Chestnut Hill College and visiting University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (USP) divvyed up the spoils between them. The USP Devils cruised to a 74-50 victory in the women’s game that led off the twin bill, while in the men’s game the Griffins of CHC fought off a late challenge to prevail, 64-58.
The Chestnut Hill women had been playing better just before the holiday break than early in the season, but they appeared to regress last Tuesday. Falling behind by 20 points in the first 14 minutes, they would descend to 2-10 on the season overall, and 1-4 in conference play. Just before the break, the Griffins men fell victim to a late rally by Bloomsburg, but they didn’t let it happen against the Devils, and were able to raise their record to 11-5, 4-0.
After giving a good account of themselves a few weeks ago in a game against Holy Family, one of the top teams in their conference, the CHC ladies looked out-of-sync against USP (7-5, 3-1), whose roster includes Catholic Academies products Carolyn Edwards (Jr./St. Basil) and Jessica Sylvester (Fr./Nazareth).
A jumper by Ebony Washington got the Griffins on the board first, but they only scored two more points during the initial 15 minutes of the game. One three-pointer by Lindsay Alexander and two by Olivia Gorczynski shored up the home side of the scoreboard late in the half, but the hosts still went into the locker room trailing 33-13. USP had taken the ball inside for its early scoring, then stepped out to hit four three-pointers of its own. Scoring the first two field goals of the second half, the Lady Devils proceeded to push the lead up over 30 points before coasting to a 24-point victory.
Gorczynski finished with a dozen points and Alexander had 11 points and nine rebounds from the Griffins, and from there their output dropped to the seven points put up by Latoya Laing. Edwards and Sylvester each wound up with 15 points as they led a parade of 10 USP scorers.
The Chestnut Hill men jumped ahead in their game with back-to-back three-point buckets by Mark DiRugeris and Brandon Williams. Nine minutes in, the Devils called a time-out after they fell behind 12-3, but the Griffins had increased their advantage by halftime, when their lead peaked at 34-21.
Joining fellow CHC guards DiRugeris and Williams, Torrell Candelaria came off the bench to score eight points (the team high at the half), while on the inside, forwards Dan Comas and Seamus Radke combined for 10 points.
Whatever was said in the visitors’ halftime huddle took effect when play resumed, as they put together a 9-1 run in the first three minutes of the second half.
Points from DiRugeris and Comas bolstered what was now a slim CHC lead, but later on the guests got within two points, 52-50, with 7:47 to go. Five three-pointers had helped the Devils close the gap. CHC stepped up on defense and allowed no more USP field goals until the very end of the game. Right after the Devils pulled within two, a Comas dunk gave the hosts a little breathing room, and later guard Jakeem Bogans bagged two lay-ups and a pair of free throws to help the Griffins go up 62-53.
With 21 ticks on the clock, Tyrone Mann-Barnes tossed in a trey for USP, which then got the ball back on a Griffins turnover. The Devils missed a three-point shot from the top of the key and were forced to foul Bogans, who converted a double-bonus opportunity to make it 64-55 with 10 seconds to go.
From the right flank, Mann-Barnes nailed another “three” right at the buzzer, but Chestnut Hill was still half-a-dozen points ahead. The Griffins offense was paced by double-digit scoring from DiRugeris (15 points), Comas (13), and Bogans (11). Candelaria had nine points and a team-high seven rebounds, while Bogans handed out five assists.
For USP (1-9, 0-4), the scoring leaders were Myer Messinger (17) and his brother Henry (14), and Garret Kerr collected a game-high 14 rebounds to go with 11 points.